4BC Drive with Scott Emerson - 15 February 2022


SUBJECTS: Alan Tudge, leaks against the Morrison Government, the Greens.

SCOTT EMERSON, HOST: Each week we are joined by the former ALP State Secretary and strategist Milton Dick. How are you, Milton?


EMERSON: Now just with that breaking news from Peter Van Onselen. Look, Alan Tudge, his future has been very much in doubt. He's been on leave for what, three months now? But now we're seeing the report coming through that, apparently, that he's about to be sacked. There's two issues there. I guess I'll start with Tudge - should he be sacked?

DICK: Well, look, I'm not surprised that the Prime Minister is looking at removing Alan Tudge, he's been a pretty ordinary Minister, whether it be in the car parks rorts scandal that he was involved with, and obviously the issues surrounding him now, and we don't really hear anything about education from the Government, probably because the Minister is under so much fire.

But the real issue for me is - and I've been around politics a little while - it's, you know, once you get to the damaging leaking stage, whether it be the cabinet leaks, the serious cabinet leaks we saw last week from the Government, and this is from inside the Government, and now tonight, either leaked deliberately to cause harm, either for the Minister or for the Prime Minister, there the two choices that I guess we're looking at after a big week last week, given that there's not much on the political agenda this week, and it's a fairly slow agenda that the Government's being put forward in the Parliament. This bombshell I think we'll probably set the same, losing a cabinet minister under these circumstances - and don't forget if the reports are true, Scott, the Minister hasn't even been informed. So this is coming from the inner sanctum of the PMs office, and now leaked to a journalist. It says it's pretty dire set of circumstances for the Government, when they are leaking against each other.

EMERSON: Well, I've been on both sides of this. As a political reporter for many, many years, I've been in politics and a cabinet minister as well. And look, I appreciate you're a member of the Labor Party here but you're exactly right, Milton Dick on this one because, and someone clearly is leaking to Peter van Onselen from the Australian, Channel 10. He had the text message, reportedly between you know, Gladys Berejiklian and a senior liberal minister, and then last week was clearly a leak coming straight out of cabinet from someone who was unhappy about the proposal from Scott Morrison, in terms of bringing forward the anti-corruption body bill and then today, another leak. This is what you do see in a Government that's not just in trouble, but often is in its dying days.

DICK: To most of your listeners out there, this is more Canberra shambles, but for me what it shows is the Government has stopped listening and focusing on those critical issues. You know, I'll be speaking in the Parliament tonight when I finish your interview, about a couple of critical issues, because whilst the Government's tearing itself apart about who's going to do what job and who's out to get Scott Morrison, all the damage to do the Prime Minister, I'm going to be speaking on the aged care crisis, because we've got serious issues in this country. And I'm going to be talking about the cost of living and once again talking about making things in Australia. They're the issues that Australians want us focused on, you know, we've got to face facts at the moment that Australia is at the crossroads in terms of where we're heading economically, the dire set of circumstances that we've been dealt as a result of a pandemic. These leaks and shenanigans that we're seeing from the Morrison Government isn't addressing those issues. And we need to understand that the Australian people are crying out for leadership, not more of the same. And, I guess, the carry on that we're seeing, destabilizing the Government and this is not attacks from the Labor Party or the crossbench - this is from inside the Government. Scott, you've been around a long time. You know, when we get to this stage. It's not looking good for the Government. But I know that we've still got about 100 days till the election, whilst the wind is sort of in our sails at the moment. I've seen this movie before. And Scott Morrison is a very cunning politician. He's going to throw everything at this. We need to remain disciplined, focused and united. And as I said, coming back to the issues that the Australian people want - not the rubbish that we're seeing from the Government at the moment.

EMERSON: Now I'm talking to the Labor Member for Oxley, Milton Dick. Milton, Greens leader Adam Bandt came out today and said, I'm not going to form a coalition with Labor that's just not on the table. Is that issue biting out there for voters, the idea that Labor could do a deal, not a sort of coalition but could do a deal relying on the support of the greens to get into power?

DICK: Look, I don't think it is factoring into voters’ minds. They're focusing on three things in my opinion. We're looking at how we can secure work, lifting living standards, and focusing on a future that we can make here in Australia. Look, I'm not interested in any negotiations with the Greens, Anthony Albanese has made it crystal clear. We won't be entering negotiations. We've learned from the experiences from the past. We understand that that is not an effective way of Government. We're asking for a strong, stable, united Government. The Greens can do whatever they want. I don't care what they want. They are party of protest. I'm in a party for Government, for mainstream politics to deliver for Australians. Adam Bandt wants to whinge all he wants, that's up to him. Quite frankly, I don't listen to anything or much that he says anyway, he's one member of the House of Representatives. But I will say this about Anthony Albanese, Scott. He's been leading the fight against the Greens and in his own electorate. He, more than anyone in Australia, knows how corrosive and dangerous, they can form in Government, he's been taking them head on in his own electorate, to the fact that he won his own seat on primaries at the last election. I've got full confidence in him, that he'll stand up to the Greens and he'll make sure that we deliver a full and open Government delivering for Australians.

EMERSON: Alright, but Milton Dick, I hear what you're saying, you know, we're not going to negotiate with the Greens. Can I say I've heard that story before. I've seen that movie before. I've seen the Labor Party say that repeatedly over and over again, but I know -and we've seen it before on various things, we saw Julia Gillard - if it comes down to having to get something through Parliament, having to get control of Parliament, be in Government, you're one seat short, you need the Greens to get across the line. You're going to do the deal, aren't you?

DICK: No, because we're not interested in negotiating with the Greens.

EMERSON: Milton, I know you're not interested, but look, if you're one seat short of being in Government, and you need the Greens to be in Government to have power to actually implement your policies. Why wouldn't you do the deal with the Greens?

DICK: Because we're interested in a majority Government only. And Scott, I'm not going to take any less. We've heard that Defence Minister, we've heard the Prime Minister talking about this so called Green/Labor deal. It doesn't exist, and particularly from Queenslanders who lecture me about this. And this is the hard part that they need to understand. At the last state election, the LNP in Queensland, delivered more Greens into the state parliament. Now that's the fact, they preferenced every Green candidate before labor at the last election, so I don't want any lectures from the state LNP, from anyone from Queensland, lecturing me about doing so called deals with the Greens.

EMERSON: Well I don't think the LNP are ever going to do a deal, are they ever going to do a, ahh, be in Government with the Greens. I think that was ruled out completely. But Milton Dick, Julia Gillard's own track record when she was the Prime Minister. She did deals with the Greens. That is Labor's track record.

DICK: Yes, we were saying that we've learned from that Scott. We understand that message loud and clear. And I can't be any more clear in supporting Anthony over these calls. As he's done in media this week to say there are no deals with the Greens, there are no negotiations. And we are solid on that because we've seen the damage that can happen when you enter into arrangements with the Greens - they are a political party of protest. They are not a party for Government. They may think they are, but I know that they're not and I know everyone inside the Labor caucus will back me in this. We've been down this road before and we're telling the Australian people that we're not prepared to negotiate or enter into any agreement with Greens.

EMERSON: If the Greens are such a threat to Australia, will the Labor Party be preferencing the LNP ahead of the Greens?

DICK: Well, our preferences aren't distributed so we won't be you know, in my own electorate for example, I'll speak on my behalf. That it doesn't matter where my preference is.

EMERSON: What about in Adam Bandt's? I assume Labor and the LNP will be the be running in that seat? Where will Labor's preferences go? To the Greens or to the Liberal Party candidate?

DICK: Well, I don't know about those decisions because I don't make those decisions. I can tell you what happens in my electorate and other electorates that I know about. But Scott, this is crystal clear. It may not be widely accepted inside the Labor Party, sorry, in the broader community, but it's accepted inside the Labor Party that we aren't entering into arrangements with the Greens. In short, the LNP and Queensland want to lecture us about this. They doubled the representation of Greens in the Queensland Parliament, not the Labor Party, not our preferences. The state LNP doubled the Green representation and I'll go one step further. If they hadn't preferenced the Greens, we wouldn't have one single green in the State Parliament at the moment because they would have lost their seat. And so all I'm saying is yes, I know this is going to be a big issue, but we're not taking any lectures from the LNP.

EMERSON: Always good to have you on the show Milton, we'll catch you next week.

DICK: Look forward to it.